Space is not really the place - for your body, anyway. Zero gravity has a myriad of effects on your body. It affects everything from your mind to your circulation, and changes your nervous system and bones... at least until you return to Earth.
If you've ever had the dream of becoming an astronaut, you can expect more changes than you actually bargained for, primarily due to weightlessness - and while it's weird, it's pretty much par for the course. The changes are not super unusual, nor are they part of a worse case scenario. They are, however, sometimes unexplainable, which is NASA and other space agencies are forever testing and studying the effects of outer space on the human body, as mankind hopes to extend its stay in our universe and beyond in the coming years.
To find out what happens to your body while you live your life in orbit read on - we guarantee these changes are not covered in sci-fi movies.
Your Brains Float Upward Towards Your Skull
It makes sense that without gravity to hold things down, they would shift - the human brain appears to be one of those things. Researchers have recently discovered that the brain shifts upward while astronauts are in space. That protective fluid that surrounds it equally on all sides on Earth is lessened at that top the head, with the majority of it found inside the brain’s ventricles or cavities. This can account for as-of-yet unexplainable symptoms astronauts have complained about while in space, most notably head pressure and vision problems.
Still, more tests are needed, especially as we're planning to send astronauts on more extended missions in the future.
Your Body Is Exposed To A LOT Of Radiation In Space
In space, there is no ozone layer serving as protection against harmful rays. Astronauts are significantly more exposed to radiation, which can get to core the space traveler's DNA. Radiation exposure in the short term, as we already know, can lead to nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. In the longer term, it can be fatal, with cancer being the most prevalent threat. Sterility is also a possibility, as is gene mutation, which can be passed down through generations.
While in space, astronauts are monitored 24/7 by the Space Radiation Analysis Group (SRAG) from Mission Control in Houston. The group makes sure that their exposure to radiation doesn't exceed acceptable levels.
You Won't Be Able To See As Well
Most astronauts - about 80% - returning to Earth have reported vision issues, which scientists now refer to as visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome (VIIP). It is not known, however, what takes place to cause this, and it's pretty impossible to study on Earth as the situation is almost impossible to replicate.
VIIP is discovered through MRIs and retinal scans. Upon examination, it has been shown that back of a space traveler's eyes flatten and his/her retinas push forward. Gravity, or lack thereof, is an obvious factor, but the exact mechanics of how this happens is still an unknown.
Space Travel Causes Genes To Switch On And Off
Astronaut Scott Kelly has a twin brother, Mark (also an astronaut, but retired,) that NASA used as a comparison in its "Twin Study" to gauge how space affects the human body. While Mark remained on Earth, Scott spent almost a year living on the International Space Station. When he came back, NASA studied the twins and found that Scott's time in space genes to turn "on and off" (the process is called methylation).
Dr. Chris Mason of Weill Cornell Medicine and a principal researcher in the study said, "We really see an explosion, like fireworks taking off, as soon as the human body gets into space. With this study, we’ve seen thousands and thousands of genes change how they are turned on and turned off. This happens as soon as an astronaut gets into space, and some of the activity persists temporarily upon return to Earth."